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Date:         Thu, 10 Aug 1995 11:03:11 +0200
Reply-To: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel
Sender: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel
From: Teus Benschop 
Subject:      Catechism, 29
To: Multiple recipients of list CHR-EXP 

Q. Who works that faith in thee?
A. The Holy Ghost.

Faith  is  required in a man, to be saved. Scripture clearly says  that.
But  now the question may arise: Who gives that faith to him? Does a man
believe  in  own power? The answer is: No, he is not able to believe  in
own  strength.  But He that works the faith in him, is the  Holy  Ghost.
Like is written: "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy
Ghost."  (1 Corinthians 12:3) The text says, that *no* man can say  that
Jesus is the Lord, except by the Holy Ghost. There is no room for belief
in  own  strength. The true belief that we may have, that is  worked  by
God's  Spirit.  Any  other belief is false. Let  then  nobody  think  by
himself: "I will believe when I have time", or, "Just before my death, I
will  speedily believe, so that I am saved". All these thoughts are vain
and  dangerous.  No man can say that Jesus is the LORD, and  believe  in
Him, but by the Holy Ghost, Who works that faith in him.

Q. By what means?
A. By the hearing of the word preached. Rom. 10:14-17.

How does the Holy Ghost work the faith in you? Does He use any means? Or
does  He  give you the faith without any means? The answer is, that  God
works  the  faith by the hearing of the word preached. The  minister  is
preaching  the  word, and God uses that word to work the  faith  in  the
elected.  That  is  what  Scripture says: "So  then  faith  [cometh]  by
hearing,  and  hearing by the word of God." (Romans  10:17)  And  a  few
verses back also: "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not
believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?
and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14) God, when He
wishes  to convert people, begins with sending the word to him  or  her.
The  sinner  goes hearing the word, when it is preached, and the  Spirit
uses that word, to work the faith in him or her.
     We  see  how  important it is, never to forsake the services.  For,
there the word is preached. And there, it pleases God to convert sinners
and to give them the faith. Who then wishes to receive the faith of God,
will diligently attend those services.
     Paul said: "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the
power  of  God unto salvation to every one that believeth;  to  the  Jew
first,  and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16) He knew that the preaching
of Christ's gospel is the power of God unto salvation of every believer,
both Jews and Greeks.

Q. How does he strengthen that faith?
A. By the same word preached, and by the use of the holy sacraments.

We  have seen that the Holy Spirit works the faith in man. When God does
so,  He  plants the faith in his heart. In the beginning, like a  common
plant,  it is very weak. Is must grow up, and become stronger in  course
of  time.  The  faith is like a new born babe. It is very  weak  in  the
beginning,  but by nourishing it, the faith becomes stronger.  Now,  the
question is: How does God strengthen that faith? And the answer: He does
that  by  the word preached, and also by the use of the holy sacraments.
Two  means  God  uses, we see, namely the word and the  sacraments.  The
Spirit  uses the preaching of the word to work the faith in man, and  He
also  uses  the  same word to strengthen it. With the sacraments  it  is
somewhat different. God does not use them to work the faith, but only to
strengthen  it.  Both, word and sacrament, are food  for  the  believing
soul.  Peter, the apostle, when he speaks to the new believers, he  says
that  they  have  to desire the word, to grow up by that.  "As  new-born
babes,  desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow  thereby:"
(1 Peter 2:2) By the word, we *hear* God's voice, and by the sacraments,
we  *see*  it  before our eyes. That is the way, wherein  God  uses  the
sacraments. We get a visible picture of the most important parts of  our
     The  Holy  Ghost  uses both word and sacraments to  strengthen  our
faith.  So,  it  can happen that one enters the church, feeling  himself
very  miserable  because of his sins and unbelief. Then it  can  happen,
when  it  pleases God, and His time is there, that He uses the  word  to
strengthen his faith. The miserable sinner then hears the word preached,
and  sees  so  much  of  God and Jesus therein, that  he  feels  himself
comforted, and that his faith is made stronger. The same can  happen  in
the administration of the sacraments. When the believer sees the visible
representation  of  Scripture before his eyes, he sometimes  is  greatly
comforted.  When in doubt, whether God is true, and whether  God  really
has  worked the faith in him, when he sees the Word before his eyes,  he
again believes that God is true and faithful. His doubt vanishes like  a
morning-cloud before the sun. Like the sun drives off the fog,  so  also
God,  the  Sun  of  Righteousness, drives away all unbelief.  When  thus
consoled,  the weak believer again stands in the sunshine  of  God.  The
brightness  of God's truth chases off satan, hell, doubt, and  whatever.
The  believer again knows: God is my Salvation. Who trusts in  Him  will
never  be  ashamed. That is the way, wherein the Holy Spirit strengthens
the faith.

Teus Benschop  |  t.benschop@pobox.ruu.nl  |  editor of the list Chr-Exp

           "A Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel"

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